“Component failure” caused Amsterdam blackout; Power utility offers cash to those hard hit

Massive power outage in Amsterdam, photo shows one block with electricity while the rest of the city is dark, 17 Jan 2017
Massive power outage in Amsterdam, photo shows one block with electricity while the rest of the city is dark, 17 Jan 2017. (Photo: @TimKlaverweide / Twitter)

A massive homes in and around Amsterdam this morning and left train traffic across the country in chaos, was the result of a "component failure" in a TenneT power station on Hemweg in the Dutch capital, Dutch utility Liander said on its website. If you were without electricity for four or more hours, Liander will contact you regarding compensation.

What exactly caused the component failure is unclear. It could take weeks to determine the exact cause, a TenneT spokesperson said to newspaper AD. "It was not immediately evident what went wrong", the spokesperson said. "So it could maybe take weeks before we know more."

The power went out at 04:19 a.m. on Tuesday. By 6:30 a.m. some 160 thousand customers had power again, including in Amsterdam city center and around Central Station. Just before 8:00 a.m. bus traffic picked up, and after that the subways and trams started up again. By 9:00 a.m. everyone's power was back on. 

The power outage , especially in and around the Randstad, but also in the rest of the country. The outage disrupted the NS IT systems that control train movements and sends out the staff deployment, the rail company said on its website. "It takes a lot of time to get the train service back on schedule because we have to get trains as well as drivers and conductors in the right place." NS writes. 

NS is still a, Utrecht and Schiphol by train if at all possible. Utrecht train travel picked up extra delays when a suspicious package was found on the station. It later turned out to be a false alarm. 

"Such a disturbance on multiple major junctions spreads like wildfire over the rest of the country", NS writes. "It is currently unknown how long the effects will be felt and how big the impact will be on train traffic this afternoon and during the evening rush hour." Travelers are advised to check NS' website periodically for actual travel information.

The Amsterdam fire department had to rescue several people from elevators this morning. The police deployed all officers to the street to keep the peace and shed some light with their car's searchlights. 

The police also had to issue a statement asking residents to stop using the emergency number to report the power outage. Emergency line 112 was flooded with calls about the outage. "Someone reported that his iPad couldn't be charged", police spokesperson Frans Zuiderhoek said to Eindhovens Dagblad. This is a problem, because it means that people with actual emergencies often can't get through. "I have no idea why people think they should make this type of report with us." In case of a power outage, report it to your power company.

Other problems caused by the power outage include the street lights not working, MC Slotervaart having to cancel all its surgeries for the day, a number of faculties at the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit not opening and a number of primary schools staying closed. There were also some 20 thousand homes that were left without heat, due to the outage affecting a Nuon station. Most of these homes now have heating again.